Los Angeles Angels interim manager Phil Nevin has a unique perspective when it comes to questions about the American League MVP race.
Nevin was the third-base coach for the New York Yankees for four seasons and saw up close just how much damage Aaron Judge is capable of at the plate. This season, he started as the Angels’ third-base coach but was thrust into a managerial role when Joe Maddon was fired. Nevin’s gotten to see and utilize Shohei Ohtani, who is making a case for a second consecutive MVP award.
When it comes down to it, Nevin expressed his support for Ohtani despite Judge being on pace for the Triple Crown.
“I’ve said it before, he’s the most valuable player of our game right now,” Nevin said of Ohtani on Saturday night following the Angels’ 2-1 win over the Seattle Mariners. “Until somebody can come in and do the things he does on both sides, I don’t see it going any other way. I love Aaron Judge like a son, but I’ll continue to say it: (Ohtani) can take over a baseball game like nobody can.”
Ohtani was 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored in the win. On the bump, he struck out eight in seven innings and moved to 13-8 with a 2.43 ERA.
“I don’t like to self-critique myself in any way,” he told reporters through an interpreter. “One thing I could say is, overall, balance-wise, I’m having a better season this year than I had last year.”
Judge and Ohtani are the two best players in the American League.
Judge is on a record-setting home-run pace for the Yankees. He has 57 homers on the season – four off from tying Roger Maris’ AL record of 61. He leads the majors in RBI (123), on-base percentage (.415), slugging percentage (.687) and OPS (1.102).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.